Don’t panic, one of our current cats did not die. I did, however, drive by a dead cat in the street this morning, and it sent me into an emotional twinge as I remembered the death of one of ours years ago. That very sad memory is especially hard to shake because I killed the poor thing.
A terrible day that added up to bad parent, bad pet owner, and bad human all together, the whole thing was accidental. In my rush to get the girls out the door for our long drive to school, I didn’t see our sweet Winnie (sister to our other cat, Pooh) sunning herself on the driveway.
It was awful, awful, awful. There was that moment of knowing I had run over something … then realizing what it was. I broke down … it took 11 year old Mo to calm me as I sobbed and gently pet Winnie until her last breaths were done. Mo was shook too… but my condition made her fear, I suppose, that a distraught mother was going to be a lot worse to deal with than a dead pet.
We had started that month with four cats. Two mysteriously disappeared, likely eaten by coyotes, but I comforted the girls that at least we had our original pair – Winnie and Pooh. (We got them when Mo was two. I had called Mike to ask which of a litter he would like – the muted calico or the yellow one? He said, “Surprise me.” So I did. Both kittens came home with me.)
Now I was guilty of killing Winnie. Not only did we have to deal with the loss of three dead pets in a month’s span, but in just a few more weeks we were going to uproot everything else to move away from the only community the girls had known. Mike had gone ahead to Gig Harbor and started his new job, which made it all worse. On my watch all of our pets were dying.
It sucks to lose a pet (or three at once). Seems like every pet loss we experienced also meant saying goodbye to a happy season of life … a season seemingly more safe and simple than the future ahead.
Our two very alive, very entertaining cats. Meet Sophie and Simba.
Not all dead cat stories in our lives are sad, though. There is one funny one.
Certainly not amusing to someone whose cat never came home … but shortly before we moved away from Snohomish, my friend Heather told us that they had been driving by a dead cat in a field every day.
“My girls are devastated,” she told me. “They beg me every time to stop and bury that poor animal.”
I tried to picture Heather in her amazing heels and stunning wardrobe (she works in fashion retail), standing in the middle of a field, digging a hole, and laying the creature to rest with a kind word or two about the joy it provided to some loving owner.
Well, because she promised her girls that if the cat was still there at the end of the week she would bury it, my vision came to life. (I don’t think she wore heels though.)
The whole adventure was far from simple. “I didn’t think about the rigamortous,” she told me. The stiff, frozen animal turned out to be bigger than the box she brought. Push and shove … she couldn’t get it to entirely fit.
The cat wasn’t the only thing frozen … the ground was impenetrable. So much for digging a burial hole. She pulled the creature under a tree, gathered the girls around this once likely fine and loved pet, said the kind words, and drove a way.
In her rear view mirror, Heather looked back to see a dead, partially decayed cat, poking up from a cardboard box … its front paws extended up in a double wave … its head cock-eyed in sort of a drunken look.
“Goodbye, special Kitty,” she muttered, determined that tomorrow they would find a new way to drive to school.
A family at my school, just informed me that they had to put down a pet … so I’m back to feeling the sadness of pet loss. Arggg … emotions.
Thank you for comfort in losses … small ones and big ones. Thank you for gifts such as pets. And thank you for emotions so that I can enjoy all of life’s fabrics. Help families that are embracing grief right now … some from the loss of pets … some from the loss of loved ones. Help me remember that You understand suffering and loss better than I ever can. Help me have the perspective of Jesus and the Cross. Help me remember that my bad days are not the only chapter of life. Amen.